While many of the NBA’s top athletes have often showcased their incredible talents with their thunderous dunks, elite three-point stroke and championship accolades, some of the game’s most notable stars have since branched out into other forms of media which includes various endeavors in the film industry as actors.
The NBA is one of the sporting world’s most popular leagues when it comes to average viewership numbers and sheer star power, as a vast number of the league’s top ranked franchises and athletes constantly draw in major numbers of spectators on a nightly basis.
Many of the game’s all-time greats have gained a great reputation for their various achievements on and off the court which has since transpired over to some of their most notable appearances on the big scene in a number of renowned films from different generations.
These are some of the greatest NBA players who have since made appearances in some of Hollywood’s most acclaimed titles:
1. Michael Jordan:
While many will be quick to claim MJ’s status as the greatest of all-time thanks in large part to his stellar play during the regular season and playoffs, Jordan has made a name for himself in other departments that may not necessarily solely revolve around basketball.
Of course, Jordan is known for his high-grossing shoe and fashion brand ‘Air Jordan’ as well as his numerous escapades with various other endeavors such as golfing and charitable organizations, yet Jordan has also made a memorable appearance on the big screen during his prime years on the Chicago Bulls.
This was of course his role in the original Space Jam title released in 1996, which featured the six-time NBA champion playing as himself in a collaboration with the famous characters from the Looney Tunes saga to take down a group of extra terrestrial aliens who have stolen the talents from other NBA players.
The film features appearances from fellow NBA star names such as Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues, Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Bird and Larry Johnson among other cameos as well as a prominent role for accomplished comedian actor Bill Murray during the final showdown.
The film is a classic with the animation style still holding up increasingly well to this day, with Jordan’s closest counterpart for the ‘GOAT’ debate now replicating his appearance in the Space Jam franchise decades later.
2. LeBron James:
Following on from Jordan’s role in the original Space Jam, the NBA’s biggest star of the 21st century, LeBron James, appeared in his own iteration of the popular 1990s classic.
While Space Jam 2: A New Legacy has not garnered as much of a great appreciation in the film’s reviews compared to the original, this film features a similar set of appearances from other NBA/WNBA stars from the game today such as Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Nneka Ogwumike and Diana Taurasi with Don Cheadle playing the role of the film’s antagonist.
James has also featured in other titles which will include his starring role in the upcoming film labelled ‘House Party’, which is set to release later this year, with the four-time NBA champion also earning great credibility as a producer for various releases such as Hustle, The Shop and The Redeem Team.
Even at the age of 38, James is still playing at an exceptional rate in the league today, which is reflected in the latest individual player NBA odds, with the King also enjoying a prosperous stint in the film industry as both an actor and a producer.
3. Shaquille O’Neal:
Shaq is one of the sporting world’s most explosive and charismatic individuals which was greatly presented during his legendary NBA playing days from which he announced himself as the most dominant athlete in the game’s history.
During his NBA stint and in the years following this run, Shaq has made numerous appearance in a number of popular film titles including Scary Movie 4, Steel, Kazaam, Blue Chips, Uncle Drew and Grown Ups 2.
Shaq has also made a number of appearances as a voice actor in video games including NBA 2K and Shaq Fu as well as other roles in The Simpson, The Cleveland Show and The Smurfs 2.
Given that Shaq has basically accomplished everything that there is to do in the NBA and has since been amongst the most active of star names in the media following his retirement back in 2011, it comes as no surprise that he has remained heavily involved in the film industry which could see the NBA’s own version of Superman likely make even more appearances on the big screen for the foreseeable future.
4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:
Before his record was just previously beaten by the aforementioned LeBron James, Jabbar was formerly the NBA’s all-time scoring leader with 38,387 points scored and was viewed by many as the game’s greatest all-time player before MJ debuted on the scene.
Much like Jordan and LeBron, Kareem has also appeared in his fair share of Hollywood blockbusters which includes his amazing role in the karate classic ‘The Game of Death’ which saw the six-time MVP square off against Bruce Lee, as well as his role as the copilot in ‘Airplane!’ which were both met with widespread amount of acclaim from viewers and critics alike.
While Kareem has kept relatively quiet when making appearances during any such released film’s since these two starring roles, there is no denying that Kareem has since made a huge impact following on from these such cameos which has likely inspired many other NBA athletes to pursue a career in acting following their retirement from professional basketball.
Alongside these names, other NBA talents have also made starring appearances on the big screen which include Ray Allen’s role as Jesus Shuttlesworth in ‘He Got Game’, Kevin Durant’s appearance in the 2012 release of ‘Thunderstruck’ back during his tenure with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Dennis Rodman’s unusual performances in ‘Double Team’ and finally Kevin Garnett’s role in Adam Sandler’s 2019 release ‘Uncut Gems’ with the Big Ticket playing a villainous role that seemed to greatly match his own on-court personality.